Racist abuser of Brentford star Ivan Toney banned from every stadium in the UK after landmark ruling
Antonio Neil sent the discriminatory posts to Bees star Toney on October 14, 2022.
Toney subsequently shared images of the abuse on his Instagram account, leading Northumbria Police – supported by the Metropolitan Police – to launch a full investigation.
The posts in question were treated as a hate crime, with Neil pleading guilty to sending an offensive message when appearing before magistrates in Newcastle.
He has now been handed a four-month sentence suspended for two years for the online offence while also being hit with a three-year football banning order – which is the first of its kind since the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 came into effect.
Superintendent Scott Cowie, who is the hate crime lead for Northumbria Police, has said: “Discrimination has absolutely no place in any society, whether out in our communities or online.
“I am therefore delighted that the seriousness of Neill’s offence has been reflected with this banning order, which forbids him from attending any regulated football in the United Kingdom.
“I hope this reinforces our commitment to taking action against anybody who commits a hate crime – it will not be tolerated and we will do all we can to put perpetrators before the courts.
“I would like to thank everyone who played their part in this particular case, including the team of officers who worked tirelessly to secure justice as well as our colleagues at the Metropolitan Police, the UK Football Policing Unit and the Premier League.”
Neil is now forbidden from attending any regulated football match in the UK – covering all four tiers of the English Football League, the National League and England home internationals – while he is also barred from attending international fixtures abroad.
Chief constable Mark Roberts, NPCC’s lead for football policing, added on the sentence handed out to Neil: “This result makes it clear that there are real consequences for those people who think they can hide behind a keyboard to post hateful comments.
“I’m pleased the new legislation has enabled a banning order to be issued in this case, which shows that the police, CPS and the courts are taking these offences very seriously.
“Northumbria Police have been proactive in seeking this order and it shows we are taking a proactive approach.
“I would urge others who are victims of online hate to come forward and report it to police so it can be investigated and action can be taken.”
Brentford are pleased to see action being taken, but have called on the relevant authorities to do even more. They said in a statement on the club’s official website: “Ivan Toney has been subject to sickening racist abuse on a regular basis, and we want to see tough action taken against anyone found guilty of such abuse.
“The club firmly believes there is no place for racial abuse in football and we continue to support and implement a zero-tolerance policy towards discriminatory behaviour of any kind.
“All authorities have their role to play in this and we, again, call upon the social media companies to make their platforms safe for all participants and to remove all hateful content.”